Go the extra mile with your last mile delivery

How new approaches to last mile delivery could help global retailers improve loyalty and sales

Last mile delivery accounts for over half of the total delivery cost,1 yet 45% of shoppers say they’re still dissatisfied with retailer delivery services.2 In fact, almost two-thirds (65%) say they want greater flexibility for deliveries; 61% would like their products to arrive faster; and 51% want real-time visibility of their order status.3 So, if your retail operation is falling short of their expectations, it could be costing you sales.4

As a global retailer, what steps can you take to improve your delivery process and build customer loyalty?5 Let’s start by exploring some technology-driven approaches that could be right for your business.

1 Delivery Experience Management (DEM)

With 83.5% of users unlikely to shop with a brand again after a poor experience,1 retailers should use DEM to proactively ensure customers receive their orders on time and in the way they expect. DEM also involves taking action to correct specific issues in the last mile of the product’s journey, and constantly engaging customers to ensure brand promises are met.2

2 Real-time inventory visibility

Knowing the locations of your inventory with pinpoint accuracy will help you improve planning, quickly fulfil orders, reduce out-of-stock and replenishment errors, and resolve supply chain problems swiftly.1

3 Seamless inventory deployment

Some retailers use intelligent algorithms to help reduce delivery times, maximise product availability, and automatically allocate and replenish their inventory in real time.1

4 Smart technology

Retailers are also trialling new technologies such as warehouse robotics and augmented reality (AR) to help with the pick, pack and dispatch process, create advanced sales forecasting, and improve their inventory planning.1

5 Agile distribution networks

The use of multiple inventory locations such as stores, metro hubs and fulfilment centres is helping many retailers offer a wider range of delivery options to meet customer needs.1

6 Distributed order management

Distributed order management allows retailers to intelligently manage orders across a range of systems, processes and partners. Aggregating orders from multiple sources means retailers can also meet orders placed by shoppers in-store or online, via any inventory location. 1

7 Delivery system integration

To give your deliveries a more accurate and personalised feel,1 consider ways to connect your delivery system with your customer data.

8 Allow customer self-service

Could you explore the opportunity for shoppers to schedule their own delivery dates and times that best suit their needs?1

New technology offers retailers lots of scope for reviewing and improving their delivery processes — but there’s also plenty of quick and simple ‘low cost’ options you could also consider. For example, even if the delivery is running late, remember to keep customers in the loop and remain transparent throughout the entire order journey. You may also be able to automate and improve the time it takes you to respond to any ‘where is my order’ customer queries. Lastly, how about partnering with courier firms that allow you to offer a same day delivery service for some products/customers?2

9 Adjusting to the new normal

As countries move into the pandemic recovery phase, it’s vital your delivery service adjusts to customers’ new needs and expectations. For example, many retailers now offer drive-through services, in-store pick-ups and even curbside collections to keep their employees and shoppers safe. Check with your logistics provider to ensure they’re regularly cleaning and decontaminating their supply chain as well — and alleviate customer fears by telling them it’s happening.1

Longer-term, it may also be worth exploring how automated processes can help you manage surges in demand, and remain flexible to the dynamic shifts caused by changes to traditional shopping channels, delivery and payment methods.2

Competition between retailers will only increase in the coming years, but taking steps to improve your last mile delivery process can help you build customer loyalty and protect your sales. Head over to Market Finder for Retail for more helpful resources, guides and success stories from Google’s team of global marketing experts.